tonight on "nightline," death by digital? as tyler clementi's parents speak out, new details emerge about what led the freshman to kill himself as his roommate allegedly broadcast a sexual encounter over the internet. how can we make our children safe? laugh lab. it's the new comedy gold mine. >> man, got some legs on her. >> reporter: using kids -- >> you pay now! >> i can give you half. >> you pay, now! >> reporter: stars -- and goofs to draw a huge audience. how funny or die became seriously funny.
and, the winner. he's an accomplished cajun chef. with an outsized mers nallty and incredible story of survival. meet our people's plate list champion. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," october 1st, 2010. >> good evening. we begin tonight with every parent's nightmare. the heart-rending story of tyler cle clementi, who ended his life after his roommate allegedly broadcast a sexual encounter over the internet. tyler's parents says quote, we hope this will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity. and new details of cle men tip's online activity have emerged. linsey davis has the inside story. >> reporter: the last 48 hours of tyler clementi's life played out online.
revealing the perils of living in a digital age. some might call it the death of privacy. yesterday, police identified the body of the 18-year-old rutgers university freshman and talented violinist who jumped off the george washington bridge to his death last week. jumping off the gw bridge. sorry. he posted these words to his facebook account reportedly 20 minutes before committing suicide. his wallet, laptop and cell phone found near the bridge. this was the final post in a string of communications that took place entirely online, revealing a shocking series of events that led to the final tragic act. >> we see it really play out almost until the end over these digital forums, if it was e-mail, twitter, web cams, facebook. and it's not until the very end, sometimes, when it's too late, but it really becomes a face to face real life issue. >> reporter: it all started tuesday night, when tyler texted his roommate, asking him for
some privacy. i had talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine with him. ravi physically left the room and immediately tweeted, roommate asked for the room until midnight. before leaving, positioned his web cam so he could remain virtually present via a computer in his friend molly wei's room down the hall what was meant to be a private encounter was reportedly broadcast to the 148 people following him on twitter and potentially anyllow followers, as well. >> i really think that people feel as if whatever business of another people they've got access to is their business. >> reporter: clementi saw the tweet and then ironically turned to the very place from which he felt he was being attacked, the internet. he sought advice from an online chat room. so, my question is, what next? i could just be more careful
next time, make sure to turn the cam away. the other thick is i don't want to report him and end up with nothing happening. over the next two days, a user believed to be clementi communicated with chat room members debating whether to turn in his roommate. i'm kind of pispissed at him. and i don't know, it would be nice to get him in trouble. then decided against it. and yeah, revenge never ends well for me, as much as i would love to pour pink paint all over his stuff, that would just let him win. reportedly, he later recounted events leading to a second romantic encounter. i texted him around 7:00 asking for the room later tonight and he said it was fine. when i got back to the room, i noticed he turned the web cam toward my bed and posted online again saying, anyone want a free show, just video chat me tonight, or something similar to that. this time, he said, he was onto him. i turned off and unplugged his computer. went crazy looking for other
hidden cams. 17 hours later, clementi was dead. all this raises troubling questions about an increasingly open digital age, when one's privacy is continually compromised. >> when we share something online it spreads much more quickly than ever before. the other issue is, i think increasingly young people are blurring the lines between private lives and public lives. and it's very important to remember that the web doesn't forget. >> reporter: in the movie "the social network," which opened today, a character based on mark zuckerberg's ex-girlfriend warns him about seemingly innocent online chatter. >> the internet is not written in pencil, mark, it's written in ink. >> reporter: 12 kids before clementi have committed suicide as a result of alleged cyber bullying. megan meyer was 13 when she hanged herself after receiving cruel messages, supposedly from a teenage boy. the messages actually came from an adult neighborhood. 17-year-old alexis pill king on the killed herself after a slew
of harassing e-mails. >> bullying has always been around. the internet is changing it significantly. the web has given people the ability to share information very quickly, it's hard to make it disappear once its been shared online. >> reporter: ravi and wei both face charges of invasion of privacy, but the prosecutor is considering additional charge s which could double the prison sentence, up to ten years. >> because of that technology, this was something that happened to us in our lives that we feel apart of, and we feel entitled to talk about, almost as if we knew these people. >> reporter: today, rutgers students mourned the loss of their talented, shy friend, who many said used his violin as his voice. >> he was just a great, wonderful violinist. i had the privilege of playing with him, even being younger than me, and i've played for 60 years, and he was much better than i was, even at his age.
just a great musician. >> reporter: rutgers students wore black in honor of clementi. how did they get the word out? fa facebook. for "nightline," i'm linsey davis in new york. >> in their statement, clementi's parents noted that, quote, we understand our family's personal tragedy presents important legal issues for the country, as well as for us. our thanks to linsey davis. and when we come back, we'll make a sharp turn, for a behind the scenes look at an internet site visited by millions, looking to lighten the mood. ♪ [ male announcer ] you're at the age where you don't get thrown by curve balls. ♪ this is the age of knowing how to get things done. ♪ so why would you let something like erectile dysfunction get in your way? isn't it time you talked to your doctor about viagra?
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legend has it, a certain british actor tried to comfort his loved ones by saying, dying is easy. comedy's hard. and such is the edict of the website funny or die, which began as an experiment by a couple of boldfaced names and has become a laugh engine for the internet age. and for jeremy hubbard, that is seriously funny. >> green team! >> reporter: a 2-year-old is responsible for this. >> first, we let openly gay people into the military. next, chihuahuas wearing sequined vests. >> an angry, drunken cursing 2-year-old. >> don't talk to me like that, okay. >> i want my money, bitch. >> don't call me that, i'm a grown man. >> reporter: when the landlord went viral, viewed more than 73 million times, the future of funny was upon us.
funny or die was born. >> i think it was 35 minutes over at will's house during a break during his son's birthday party. put it up on the site which we thought was no big deal and in a couple of days just millions and millions of hits and, they offered pearl a lead in a movie, they asked her to be on "ellen." >> reporter: adam is one of the forces behind this transformation. and it was his daughter pearl who played the landlord. you may not recognize his face. but you know his work. along with his old "saturday night live" buddy, he co-created the linchpins "anchorman," and most recently, "the other guys." with little more than a video camera, a goofy idea and a gaggle of good sported celebrities. >> they said, sir, you're not old enough. so i bought the club. and i made it a chuck e. cheese. now who is old enough, [ bleep ]? >> reporter: funny or die has
helped reboot humor. >> it amazing me how big it gets, like, every single month. the amount of unique hits. >> reporter: now, you'll find the staff hard at work here, in their offices in west hollywood. >> and what the bit is, is, gab yell union has a butt on each side. >> not producing a motion picture, but instead revolutionizing internet comedy. mckay and ferrell got the idea for a website where they could goof off and new talent could be seen. >> the whole idea was, a place to go things and do things with no oversight, no responsibility to advertisers or producers. >> reporter: some of the best on the site are created by the funny or die staff. viral staples like "between two ferns." >> it is really upsetting that you didn't have more scenes with chewbacca? >> actually. >> what is he like to work with? >> reporter: a mock cable show chock fall of awkwardness. >> really interested in the work
you've been doing down in haiti. tell us a little bit about that. >> well -- >> is there a six flags down there? >> there's not, no. >> we can move on. >> reporter: and then, the most popular videos on the site. those featuring surprisingly self-effacing celebrities. >> hi there. you've exexperienced one of the millions of uses for my news product. >> reporter: believe it or not, agents are clamoring to get their stars to make fun of themselves here. >> we had mariion cotillard com on with breasts on her forehead. david mamet shot a piece for us. just amazed at the people that show up. >> reporter: now, they're actually making money, with more than 7 million people clicking on the site every month. and they branched out. there's a popular hbo spin-off, which mckay admits can be hit or miss. but it's all part of the funny or die comic laboratory. >> we just watched an episode
last week, my wife and i, and there was a scene that was on, and i went, oh, my god, i can't believe this is being broadcast on television right now, this is actually being seen. that started making us laugh, so -- there is always that. but ultimately, we try to keep the same spirit of, the hell with it, let's try stuff you don't see anywhere else. >> fredrik douglas, he's like, guess what, i have to tell you three things. >> reporter: one of the more successful segments is drunk histo history, where people who appear to be drunk talk about history. >> horrified. he'd be like, this is awful. i inventing electricity, and you look like a [ bleep ]. >> reporter: now there's talk of funny or die movies. all blossoming from a website with a simple concept. users upload their amateur videos, viewers vote, if they're funny, they stay, if not, they die. >> i'm the ghost of dick cheney.
>> politics are a favorite. they are the ones who reunited all those "saturday night live" presidents for this spoof on wall street reform. >> why would i want advice from you? >> it was the '90s. people did all kinds of -- crazy things. >> he's the biggest celebrity in the world. >> reporter: when then john mccain compared barack obama to paris hilton during the 2008 campaign, funny or die became part of the political discourse. >> first much, i saw the commercial and i couldn't believe he even mentioned paris hilton. i was like, what are you doing? well, now you're in our world, so, within ten minutes we had paris on the phone. here's the idea. we had it shot in two days. >> hey, america, i'm paris hilton, and i'm a celebrity, too. only, i'm not from the olden days and not promising change like that other guy. i'm just hot. >> we heard the campaign responded, and we were like that
is the saddest moment for american politics ever and second off, oh, my god, that's hilarious. >> reporter: that bring s up th one person they would love to have on funny or die. >> we've tried to get him. we weren't told no immediately. you have to remember, he's been on letterman, leno. it's not crazy. we're -- look at the numbers as far as the hits. we get higher ratings than a lot. it' not insane that he would do it. that's the dream get. >> reporter: until that takes place, mckay is content with the every day joes, all contributing to what you could call comedy 2.0. ♪ >> reporter: i'm jeremy hubbard for "nightline" in los angeles. >> and for an exclusive sneak peek at a new funny or die video featuring chris bosh, you can
visit our website, abcnews.com/nightline. and up next, the winner of our people's plate list competition, to find the country's best local chef. we head to georgia, by way of cajun country. if you fight to sleep in the middle of the night, why go one more round ? you don't need a rematch, but a rethink. with lunesta. lunesta is thought to interact with gaba receptors associated with sleep. lunesta helps you get the restful sleep you need. lunesta has some risk of dependency. when taking lunesta, don't drive or operate machinery until you feel fully awake. walking, eating, driving or engaging in other activities while asleep without remembering it the next day have been reported. abnormal behaviors may include aggressiveness, agitation, hallucinations, or confusion. in depressed patients, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide, may occur. alcohol may increase these risks. allergic reactions such as tongue or throat swelling
four years ago, bob ehrlich got fired as governor of maryland. for good reason. first, he protected tax loopholes for giant cable cable companies. then, he let utilities jack up our rates 72%. and for the last four years, he worked as a hired gun for big corporations, even a bank that took billions from a taxpayer funded bailout. ehrlich sides with corporate executives again and again and again tell bob ehrlich big banks and billionares don't need help. middle class marylanders do.
where life moves at a fairly deliberate pace. with the exception at one corner on main street at dinner time. ♪ >> i'm a red cajun. that's what you call it. kind of a mix. little bit of red neck, little bit of a cajun. we love fried food, hell, yeah. we'll fry your kids if we have a chance. trust me. got some fresh spinach we got right here. going into our 350 degree fryer. we're going to dust the scallops. nice, hot, smoking pan. these need to be mid rare. we're not going to cook them very long. probably a maximum of two to three minutes. as you know in louisiana, we like to fry things. scallops almost ready to turn.
take a peek. looking great. going to turn them over. beautiful golden brown. halleluj hallelujah. my dad. he was a farmer, he's the one that instilled -- he's an entrepreneur. he was the one that really instilled in me that, you know, even know he wanted me to be a civil engineer and didn't really fancy the cooking that we did, didn't think that was going to be a good career, because to him that wasn't a manly thing, but seeing him get up every day of his life at 4:30 in the morning, go to work, get it done. i figured that if he could do it, he instilled that in me, hard work is going to pay off so, we did that every american does. we decided to risk everything, own a small venture. we're going to put the garlic with it. we going with the powdered sugar on it, cinnamon. going to plate it up. very simple. just come in with the plate. now we're going to add scallops to it. beautiful sea scallops.
easy to prepare. remember, don't overcook them, ever. these are sweet red peppers. blue cheese. our sweet soy molasses. enjoy, everyone. yeah, baby. one of the best things. come and see me. nanny, she was a great woman. she was the one that raised us. my mother was a southern belle. my mother slept until noon every day, but wednesdays, she went to the beauty parlor. my nanny was there at 5:00 every morning. she got breakfast started. she made sure daddy's coffee was made. she made sure the kids were dressed for school. nanny put the band-aids on us. she put us on the bus. she sewed the clothes. she was a good woman. sorry. she's the one that -- she's the one that taught me how to cook.
the first time i got to cook with her was chicken and dumplings. i was 10 years old and she finally let me do it myself. i fed 18 farm hands, my dad, the farm foreman and that was it, that's where it started. shrimp going into the half and half mixture. oysters going into the mixture and some good louisiana crawfish. we're going to soak them in there for as you see, as quick as we can get them in and quick as we can get them out. they're going into the mix right here. then we're going to go over here to the fryer, drop them in, 350 degrees and get them going. all right. we're going to start off with our garlic infused rosemary oil. going to come in here with the fresh spinach. you can hear it sizzling. once you get that just wilted down just a little bit, we're going to come back with the taso. louisiana boston butt hall,
smoked. one garlic clove. that's all you need. put them into our dish. secret recipe, i shouldn't be telling you. food to me means happiness. energy. soul. it's part of you. it's part of what makes you not only live, but it's part of your soul. we're going to pull the seafood up. pop it into the drainer. there we go. it's absolutely stunning. pop it in. while we're doing that, we're going to come back with the secret henry's cajun alfredo sauce. there we go. toss in the ooh la la. going to come in with the pasta. and here we go, baby. ooh la la. absolutely the best thing you'll ever heat at henry's louisiana grill. we call it sex on a plate, baby. yeah, come on. what it means is community. it means friends, family,
everybody has come together so much for us. that's what the plate list is. friends, family, and everybody that cared about us and everybody that's ever eaten in here at one time, 1,000 times, our regulars, it doesn't make any difference. that's what a plate list is. that's putting them all on one big plate and that's the best thing about it. thank you for making me the plate list winner. thank you, america, and he everybody that voted for me. >> congratulations to henry chandler. brother's got soul to spare. and thank you to all of you who entered and voted. when we come back, islam in america. that is the sub jebject of tonis closing argument. first, here's what's coming up with jimmy kimmel. >> jimmy: tonight, ben affleck is here. maura tierney is with us, we have music from usher and